Rent, Buy, or Condo?

Special commentary by Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Rudy Nichols

The title attempts to create a verb out of the word “condominium.” Just as a person can rent a placeNICHOLS, Rudy to live having hallways and other areas in the complex, or buy a place outright and have full ownership, condominium living is basically a hybrid approach to those two methods of living. That is, the resident can fully own the unit they are living in while using roads, parks, pools, etc., in common with others.

Whether to buy and own a home, lease an apartment, or purchase a condominium can be a dilemma when considering a community in which to live.

Faced with rising rental fees, yet unable to afford a single-family home, some are purchasing condominiums as a way of joining the housing market. Condominiums and apartments can be similar in terms of structure and development. However, purchasing a condominium gives the security of a mortgage with full ownership rights. Another advantage is the potential equity in the property versus rental rates that increase every year with no appreciation in value for the renter. In addition, you can also have the advantage of tax deductions, such as your mortgage, if you own a condominium. Nevertheless, there are responsibilities inherent in condominium living, while apartment living is virtually a carefree lifestyle without a long-term commitment.

Whether to purchase a home or a condominium depends on an individual’s wish list, budget, and lifestyle. For some, the issues of privacy, the enjoyment of tending to a yard and garden, and the idea of restriction-free living propels them toward home ownership.  The total control of the property with the ability to make interior and exterior changes without the consent of others is preferred by such people.

For others, the benefits of home ownership, while having a close community environment, and having contract services such as lawn mowing, snow removal, refuge pick-up, and other similar matters provided is the desired outcome. Condos can include such amenities as swimming pools, tennis courts and workout facilities. Such services will have to be paid for in association fees, however, along with water, sewer, trash and other services as well, depending upon where you live.

Condominium living has disadvantages. Decisions of the association are made by a condominium board, leaving individual owners with little say once a decision is made.  Association fees can escalate to cover improvements and repairs. Privacy can be an issue with condominiums in those structures with adjoining units and common interior walls. Condo owners also have fewer freedoms with the exterior of their unit as association rules usually dictate various restrictions.

How do you know whether a house or a condo is right for you? First, decide which kind of living is for you. If you decide on condominium living, remember that each one has differing rules and regulations. Make sure you understand these. Keep in mind that there is more than just a sales contract and deed. There may also be master deeds, site plans and by-laws. Then find out how well the association is managed and how well the association deals with unit owners’ requests and complaints. Also inquire as to whether property managers or other professionals have to be frequently engaged to resolve problems. In addition, determine whether the property is being properly maintained. Finally, check to see if the finances are in order and whether the association is maintaining a reserve fund.

Condominium living can be great for some people, particularly those in their golden years. If you don’t want the upkeep and maintenance of a single-family home, or don’t want to hire contractors to perform work around the home, then a condominium may be the answer. On the other hand, if you do not like being governed by association rules and regulations, then you should think twice before taking the plunge. Balance the benefits when you are weighing what type of property to purchase.

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at

Speak Your Mind